Albrecht Dürer, St. Jerome in his Study. German, 1514. FM: 22.I.3-66 © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

The solitude required for study meant that this space was often linked with private devotion and pious contemplation, and the Doctors of the Church were traditionally depicted in these surroundings. Here we see St Jerome, the translator of the Bible into Latin, seated at a simple table with a sloping writing desk and an ink well. Around the room are numerous other objects that furnish any study – candles, letters and books – also accompanied by devotional items like the crucifix and reminders of mortality in the skull and hourglass. St Jerome is accompanied by his faithful dog and the lion that he saved from a thorn in its paw, both of whom sit quietly and companionably at his feet. As is also explored in the church section of this exhibition, knowledge might be divinely bestowed rather than derived from the external world.